Monday 26 March 2012

This and that

It's been a long, cold winter. It was snowing last week, though I think we've seen the last of it, and today there was a bitter wind. My mother says that in her garden in Yorkshire, the crocus are finished and the garden is alive with daffodils, narcissi and hellebores. In Tokyo the 'ume' (plum) with its lovely fragrance is in full bloom, to be followed by the cherry (late this year, forecast to start 7 April) followed by peach blossom. But here the landscape is still wintry. There's an old castle town about ten miles away called Miharu 三春 which translates as 'Triple Spring' . People say it's because the plum, the cherry and the peach blossom come out all  at once, usually at the end of April. Yes, it's a long wait for spring. But then it will come very suddenly.

Extraordinary news last week that the SPEEDI map, which predicts the distribution of radioactive materials after a nuclear accident and which the Cabinet only found out about a couple of weeks after the disaster, was sent by e-mail to Fukushima prefecture's disaster HQ in the days after the disaster - but someone deleted all the e-mails! Full story here:

On Friday the results of the annual Ministry of Land and Transport survey of land prices (as of 1st January) came out. Land prices nationally fell on average 2.3%.  Fukushima was the worst prefecture at 6.2%  and the worst place in Fukushima was our very own Koriyama where land prices fell a record 8.1% over the year before. For someone who's trying to sell her house (too big) and running a real estate company this is not good news. Someone was telling me prices should bottom out this year. Those who've evacuated to Koriyama aren't buying yet. They're waiting for their compensation. For those in the 'Dificult to Return zone' (see last post) Tepco has promised 6 million yen (46,000 GBP) per person (5 years worth compensation upfront for evacuation expenses and mental stress) and says it will purchase  land and buildings at pre-disaster prices. So people are in limbo, waiting for their compensation. Hopefully then we'll get a housing boom and a rise in prices.

In Koriyama the library and the concert hall reopened last week at long last.

Meanwhile North Korea's threatening to lop a missile at its neighbours next month. The last one came over this way but this time it's going south, over Okinawa and Guam towards the Phillipines. Obama's doing some very welcome posturing in the Republic of Korea.
Never a dull moment here.

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